Selecting the best of the Lowcountry's best high school basketball players was no easy task this year. Several players put together seasons worthy of strong consideration in both the boys and girls ranks.
In the end, the two players who stood out led their respective teams to the semifinals of the state playoffs, with “led” being the operative word. Those players – North Charleston boys senior guard Darjawuan “Doggie” Brown and Porter-Gaud girls senior guard Elise Pearson – did that and have been selected The Post and Courier's All-Lowcountry basketball players of the year.
Brown and Pearson were the unquestioned leaders of their respective teams, not only this season but for several campaigns over their careers.
Pearson guided Porter-Gaud to the SCISA Class AAA final four in each of the last two years. She finished her career with more than 1,200 points, despite being limited to only nine games as a sophomore due to an ankle injury.
This season was her best by far in every statistical category. The 5-9 guard averaged 20.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.9 steals per game in her final year.
“She put us on her back the last two years,” Porter-Gaud coach Kevin Ziman said.
Pearson, though clearly the star of the show, was quick to point out the importance of her teammates this season.
“Their unselfishness allowed me to have a great senior year and I will always remember that,” she said. “We have girls who are stars in other sports, like soccer and track. They didn’t have to be playing basketball but they made a lot of sacrifices to be out there. The journey with my teammates was awesome this year. I feel like we took it as far as we could.”
Pearson is expected to sign with College of Charleston this month, depending on the severity and length of the coronavirus outbreak in the Lowcountry. She is spending her off time from school by working out and staying in shape. She eagerly awaits the next level of play.
“I am so excited about the entire college experience, from basketball to academics to cheering for the other sports,” Pearson said. “Hopefully things will get better and we can start on time. I am really looking forward to taking the next step.”
Brown, who was part of the rebuilding process at North Charleston over the last four years, leaves the program as one of the all-time greats. He guided the Cougars to the Class AAA Lower State finals this season, averaging 22.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 3.9 assists.
Brown leaves with many fond memories but also with a few regrets.
“We thought we had a good enough team to win a state championship this year, so it’s a little disappointing,” said Brown, who finished his career with more than 1,800 points.
“We had a great year. Every other year we got put out in the second round so we definitely had a good year. We accomplished a lot together.”
Brown is currently awaiting his ACT scores before making a decision about college. He has received considerable interest from schools like Appalachian State, Mercer, South Carolina Sate and Gardner-Webb. He understands the next level of play will require even more focus.
“I’m going to miss North Charleston and my teammates but I am looking forward to taking the step to the next level,” he said. “Other than winning a state championship, I accomplished all I could in high school. I want to continue to grow as a player and college will help me do that.
The boys coach of the year is Bryan Grevey of Bishop England. Haley Weed of North Charleston and Tim Baldwin of Goose Creek are the coaches on the year on the girls side.
G Darjawuan Brown, 6-0, Sr., North Charleston
F Mason Grant, 6-3, Jr., Porter-Gaud
G Patrick Antonelli, 5-10, Sr., Bishop England
F Deshawn Murray, 6-3, Sr., North Charleston
G Bailey Wiseman, 6-2, Jr., James Island
G Tristan Freeling, 6-4, Sr., Oceanside Collegiate
G Wendell Seabrook, 6-1, Sr., Charleston Charter
F Ahmad Brown, 6-5, Sr., Ashley Ridge
G Cohen Gaskins, 6-2, Sr., Pinewood Prep
F Malakhi Stremlow, 6-5, Sr., Cane Bay
F Aidan McCool, 6-4, Sr., Bishop England
G Colin McKenzie, 6-5, So., First Baptist
G Alex Sherrill, 6-3, Sr., Colleton County
G Marc Haight, 6-2, Sr., Philip Simmons
G Sam Laydon, 6-0, Sr., Wando
G Demetri Simmons, 6-0, So., Goose Creek
Elijah Ortiz, Faith Christian; Rashad Brown, Ashley Ridge; Jerald Howard, Fort Dorchester; Nick Freitag, Summerville; Kaiden Mines, West Ashley; Jahleel Porter, West Ashley; Jaden Scott, James Island; Mikey Blandin, First Baptist; Adonis Cole, First Baptist; Daniel Brooks, Bishop England; Nai’Ryan Bookert, St. John’s Christian; Stephan Gadson, Colleton County; Tariq Shabazz, Pinewood Prep; Trevon Spillers, Military Magnet; Joel Burgess, Cathedral; Kendall Chakeris, Palmetto Christian; Sam Crowley, Oceanside Collegiate; Kevin Stokes, Stall; Jaylen Green, Philip Simmons; Framon Frazier, Berkeley; Khyree Thompson, Burke; Justin Alexander, Goose Creek; Tyrese Williams, Wando; Jontae Adams, Stratford; Chai Kirshstein, Porter-Gaud; Jett Kirshstein, Porter-Gaud.
Player of the Year – Darjawuan Brown, Sr. North Charleston
Coach of the Year – Bryan Grevey, Bishop England
G Elise Pearson, 5-8, Sr. Porter-Gaud
F Augusta Dixon, 6-0, Sr., James Island
G Aniyah Oliver, 5-3, Sr., Goose Creek
F Amanda Blake, 6-0, Sr., Ashley Ridge
G/F Aujea Bowman, 5-8, Jr., Fort Dorchester
G Ca’Vashia Johnson, 5-6, Sr., North Charleston
C Ke’Airra Gregory, 6-1, Jr., Northwood Academy
G Lexi Grant, 5-9, So., First Baptist
G Jahia Williams, 5-7, Jr., Bishop England
G Kolia Adams, 5-7, Sr., Goose Creek
G Rykia Jakes, 5-4, Fr., Military Magnet
F Tranell Mitchell-Smalls, 5-11, Jr., North Charleston
C Elizabeth Eads, 5-0, Sr., Wando
G Kimani Green, 5-6, Sr.. Woodland
G Nadia President, 5-6, Jr., Cross
G Alayah Birch, 5-7, 8th grade, Northwood Academy
Amiyah Ferguson, Northwood Academy; Diamond Thompson, Ashley Ridge; Kristen Jenkins, West Ashley; Carya Manick, Summerville; Lexi Shepard, Summerville; Emma Albano, Bishop England; Lily Woods, Bishop England; Kaelin Davis, Military Magnet; Dylan Silber, Wando; Katelyn Howard, Palmetto Christian; Kennedy Rivers, Philip Simmons; Kylee Kellerman, Philip Simmons; Janae Whaley, Stall; Tiana Spann, First Baptist; Emmy Keogh, Porter-Gaud; Kennedy Rhue, Oceanside Collegiate; Qwanajah Johnson, Burke; Ashleigh Goings, Fort Dorchester; Jyahni Smith, Berkeley; Peighton Jambor, Berkeley; Aliana Gilmore, Cane Bay; Janise Shaw, Goose Creek; Alaina Nettles, Cane Bay; Nabrayja Washington, James Island; Bernadica Brown, St. John’s; Taia Gattis, Cross.
Player of the Year – Elise Pearson, Senior, Porter-Gaud
Coaches of the Year – Haley Weed, North Charleston; Tim Baldwin, Goose Creek